Mannkal Economic Education Foundation

Mannkal Student Internship Blog

Ryan Soares – New Zealand Taxpayers Union – Week 2

Ryan Soares

11 July 2016

This week saw the Taxpayers’ Union office run on a skeleton team consisting of myself and one other colleague. With over 100 passionate emails being sent to Auckland Councillors by our members on Monday, addressing the inefficient management of the councils responsibilities, it is evidently clear that the work we are doing is making a meaningful impact.

Over the course of the week I continued to compile data from all 67 councils annual reports and official information requests, by no means an easy task. Once all the data has been inputted, our aim is produce a report which clearly illustrates and compares how each of the councils are performing and spending ratepayers’ money. As the local council elections draw closer, it is crucial that our report can be published over the coming weeks.

Earlier in the year, the Taxpayers’ Union uncovered that over half a million dollars is spent unnecessarily by Government Departments on TV subscriptions. As such, in addition to working on my report I also had a chance to delve into more investigative work. This proved to be interesting as we uncovered how much each council spends on Facebook advertising, the Government Departments wasting taxpayers’ money by not using negotiated All-of-Government procurement contracts for office supplies, and even looking into the credit card statements for the NZ Trade and Enterprise Department’s London office. (I am determined to understand how over $5000 is spent on 150 different Amazon transactions!)

Over the weekend I had the chance to tour The Beehive, the official name for New Zealand’s Parliament building. Evidently, from certain angles it does in fact resemble a beehive. It was interesting to find the Old Senate Chambers and learn that in 1950, New Zealand politicians voted to abolish the Senate as it was found to no longer serve a useful purpose. The politicians who proposed and enacted the bill were rightly named the ‘suicide squad.’

Finally,  I visited Gallipoli: The Scale of our War exhibition at Te Papa. The exhibitions provided an immerse experience and in-depth look into the stories and experiences of our ANZAC troops. With a lot of work still to be done, I am looking forward to next week and the release of some of our work.

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